5 Quick Steps to Create a Family Yearbook

The best thing I have done as a mom is start photo books. I started yearly books for Maddie when she was 6 months old, never thinking I would wind up having twins, and that it would change the way I create individual books for each of our kids. Plus, hello?! As we go, the kids are going to be together all.the.time. so how would it even be possible to just have enough separate photos of all 3 of them to create individual books? Therefore, our plan is changing to family yearbooks.

With Maddie's yearly books, I started each of them at her birthday. The last page is always the invitation to her next birthday party; the first page of the new book is an intro to her current age, followed by 3 or 4 spreads of her birthday party.

End of book 2

Pages 3 & 4 of book 3

You can do these books the easy way or the hard way. I did her first book the hard way. I had LITERALLY (Chris Traeger voice) thousands of pictures to cull through because I decided to start these books when she was 6 months old. After that, I have stayed on top of these photos (for the most part). The most I let myself get behind is 2 months. It's the BEST way to get everything done in a timely fashion, AND then it doesn't feel like I threw it together because there is an overwhelming amount of work to do on one book quickly.

So, here's 5 quick tips to help you get started & stay on top of your family yearbooks.

1. Organize your photos on your computer. The best way I have found to organize my photos and get going is to upload all of my images by month. I keep folders with the month & year on the computer, & dump photos in as I go. I may not sit & edit them immediately (and obviously you don't need to edit anything, but the perfectionist photographer in me has to do it. It's a compulsion.), but they eventually get edited & added to my Shutterfly book.

2. Pick a photo book company that is user-friendly. I have used Shutterfly for all of my books because they are pretty good quality, they are reasonably priced (I have gotten a 50% off coupon every single year when I order her books), and their system is very user-friendly. I am trying Blurb this year for a new look. I like the different size options they have now that I am switching to family yearbooks. I'm interested to see how their design program works.

3. Decide on your timeline. Like I said, Maddie's books were year to year, but family yearbooks are taking on a new concept: beginning of the year to the end. The 2014 family yearbook started with some pictures of Maddie & I. We don't really do New Years celebrations since I am an old lady now, so I started with some of the first pictures I had of the two of us.

First 2014 Family Yearbook spread

Unfortunately, the next couple months won't have tons of interesting goings on as I am stuck in bed, but I can take picture of all the playdates we have over the coming months to show that we did SOMETHING.

4. Hit the highlights of your year. Whatever BIG thing we did during that year, I made a HUGE deal about in Maddie's books (birthday parties, vacations, Christmas, etc.). Make multiple spreads for the moments that were the most important. This past year was a vacation to the Caribbean with Josh's side of the family. It was a big, long, awesome trip, so I wound up creating 12 pages dedicated to just this trip.

When you're creating these pages, use your imagination or look at some pre-designed layouts to get you going in the right direction. Include tons of pictures, but make sure that each layout isn't overwhelming. I like to have some semblance of order, then throw in a bunch of pictures that didn't necessarily fit the story I was telling on previous pages (like the last spread). I try not to use too many phone photos because of their poor quality, but for the sake of including all the special moments, I always throw them in somewhere. If that's all you have, USE THEM! Include your memories, funny stories, special moments, and anything else you think was important for your entire family to read years down the line & reminisce about. 

5. Use your phone photos. Oftentimes, the only camera we have on us is an iPhone. That's ok! You are still capturing your everyday life. Those photos are just as important as the ones that were taken with the big family camera (that's how I remember it as a kid, with my dad toting along the television studio-sized camcorder). Some of my favorite spreads in Maddie's books have been what I call the "Instagram" pages. They are the quick moments I captured of Maddie when she was being goofy or cute or whiny. I do 3 or 4 spreads of "Instagram photos" per book. I have been better in the past about taking photos with my camera, but since the bed rest drama, I haven't pulled my camera out as much. That has changed this week. 

Whatever you do, just do something. If you are a scrapbooker, scrapbook. If you create photo albums, create albums. I happen to find this way the best possible way for me to get everything into a book & look nice. I've made scrapbooks in the past, but it's far more expensive & time-consuming for me to get those done. These photo books allow me to keep everything filed neatly, and work according to my schedule. If you have questions, ask me! If you want assistance, ask me! This is one of my favorite things to create. And now that our family is growing, it will be even more fun to receive this at the end of each year as the FIVE of us grow & change. 

Now, go create!

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